Environmental authorisation refused for Jindal’s Melmoth iron ore mine in Kwazulu-Natal

  • In a victory for people, the environment and sustainable development, Jindal’s Environmental Authorisation for a massive 202 km2 mining site to develop an open cast iron ore mine and processing plant near Melmoth was refused by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy on Friday on environmental grounds. 

All Rise submitted comments in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process on behalf of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, Durban office (“SDCEA”), the Nwaleni Water User Association (“NWUA”) and the Nkwalini and Surrounds Supporting Sustainable Rural Development community organisation in September last year.

At the core of our clients’ submissions were:

  • The existing overallocation of the Mhlathuze catchment with no prospect of supplying the mining operations without severely impacting current water users.
  • Regional groundwater and surface water pollution.
  • The destruction of vast areas of agricultural land, severely impacting food security, livelihoods, businesses and jobs.
  • The destruction of vast areas of ecological importance and protected species.
  • Failure to include all aspects integral to the mining operation in the same EIA, in particular the tailings storage facility and transport infrastructure. This is commonly known as project splitting and is prohibited in the EIA regulations because it curtails the assessment of cumulative impacts.
  • Significant impacts on local communities, not only those families who would have to be relocated but also those who would be forced to live adjacent to a large polluting mine.
  • Inadequate public participation.
  • Significant gaps in information and uncertainties thus preventing adequate assessment, meaningful consultation and informed decision-making.

In essence, the DMRE’s refusal was based on the extensive gaps in the EIA in context of constitutional rights, stating that “There is limited information in which to make a positive decision. By applying holistic and defensible decision making, taking cognisance of the precautionary principle and in-line with the Department’s mandate, the Department’s decision to refuse is in line with the obligation in terms of Section 24 of the Constitution. The Department has a mandate to ensure the environment is protected for present and future generations.”

Source: All Rise 

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